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A Very Bad Day in The Life of a Writer

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I have had a very miserable day as a writer. The type that happens to all of us sometimes, but which rarely happens all at once. This is one of those days.

I awake to the news that one of my favorite, most respected actors in all the world has died: Peter O’Toole. I am heartbroken.

Legendary actor Peter O'Toole, as Lawrence of Arabia, in the David Lean film of the same name: the role that made O'Toole an international superstar.

Legendary actor Peter O’Toole, as Lawrence of Arabia, in the David Lean film of the same name: the role that made O’Toole an international superstar.

I have several books to revise, one to format, one of my author’s books to line-edit, and I don’t feel like doing any of it. I stay in bed, petting the cats, till after 10 a.m.

I remember that Peter O’Toole has died. I worshipped him. I’ve seen all his movies multiple times. Yes, even Phantoms. I am too depressed to work on anything. I stay in bed till 11.

Peter O'Toole announced his retirement from acting at age 80

Peter O’Toole announced his retirement from acting at age 80

I decide to do some kind of work, even if only to take my mind off Peter’s death. My computer, a Mac, is stuck on the little spinning beachball for 15 minutes.

I run the disk utility. Permissions repaired. Disk verified and found to be “OK.” Beachball continues spinning. For almost 20 minutes. I force-quit everything, restart computer, log in. Beachball immediately begins to spin.

I call Apple Support. After several attempts to make beachball stop, they suggest 2 possible problems: a corrupted OS, in which case I must download the OS again; or a failing external hard-drive (I have 2 where I back everything up, having had an internal computer hard-drive go bad in the past and lost much of my writing, my authors’ manuscripts, cover art which I’d already bought, etc.). Apple suggests I try downloading a new version of the OS first since the spinning beachball is system-wide and not user-specific. (At least I understand what he is saying, so I feel somewhat, if only slightly, computer literate.) We restart the computer in Safe Mode and the download begins.

Within minutes I get a text warning that I am at 75% of my data allowance for the month, which is 12G. The computer screen shows that 1 hour 59 minutes remain on the download. I am blue. I will have to upgrade my data plan, if only for this month, to avoid outrageous overage charges.

I recall that Peter O’Toole has died. I feel like crying. In an interview last year, he said that he dyed his hair brown for roles like Lion in Winter and Becket because he feared that, as a blonde, he would not be taken seriously as an actor. It shocked me when I heard him say it. It saddens me to remember it.

Peter O'Toole, with his hair dyed brown, and Katherine Hepburn in LION IN WINTER. Peter specifically asked Kate, as he called her, to play Queen Eleanor to his King Henry II. She agreed without reading the script.

Peter O’Toole, with his hair dyed brown, and Katherine Hepburn in LION IN WINTER. Peter specifically asked Kate, as he called her, to play Queen Eleanor to his King Henry II. She agreed without reading the script.

At 57 minutes remaining on the download, I get an alert that I am at 90% of my data usage. I send an email to my rep at Verizon asking if I should update now, just for this month, or wait till I get closer to my billing date. She is not in today, so no response. In Limbo.

Apple Support had suggested that I test the external hard-drives on my laptop to determine whether one of them is failing. I bring laptop to office and plug in 2 WD hard-drives. One registers. One does not.

I do not know which HD is which since both are same brand and model, just purchased at different times. I take a grab in the metaphorical dark and unplug one. The one that is showing on my desktop is still there. That is the one that works. I eject it, and using its Firewire, plug the unresponsive HD into the laptop. Nothing.

I take the USB cable from the non-responsive HD and plug it into the good HD, to determine if the problem is a connection one. Both the USB and the FireWire work on the responsive HD. Neither works on the other. Bad HD. Bad news.

The computer is restarting. That means I spent 57 minutes testing the HDs. What a wasted day I feel I’ve had.

Peter O’Toole has died. I’m too sad to cry.

Peter O'Toole after his final Oscar-nominated role in VENUS, his 8th nomination without a win

Peter O’Toole after his final Oscar-nominated role in VENUS, his 8th nomination without a win

I find the original WD box for the HD which is not responding. I call WD Support. One of the HDs is out of warranty (3 years) as of 31 July 2013, while the other is in warranty until 6 February 2014. I cross my fingers as I dig out the magnifiying glass to read the miniscule serial number. WD Support asks if I am sure that it is the HD that is not working. They make me read the serial number off the other. They ask me to plug only one into the computer at a time and read the serial numbers to them again. 36 minutes have passed because the Support Tech, though kind, does not speak any kind of English that I have ever heard, and I often have to request that he repeat things several times, very slowly, so that I can do what he requests.

WD asks to put me on hold. While on hold, I notice the time. 4:48 p.m. Nothing accomplished so far today.

While on hold, I think of Peter O’Toole’s movies that I have seen. I think of all Peter’s Oscar nominations, all of which he deserved to win, none of which he was awarded. I feel sad. For Peter. For the world.

Peter was awarded an Honorary Oscar for his career. At first, he refused to accept it, then relented. In his acceptance speech, however, he said he would still like to actually "win one of the bloody things" for his work.

Peter was awarded an Honorary Oscar for his career. At first, he refused to accept it, then relented. In his acceptance speech, however, he said he would still like to actually “win one of the bloody things” for his work.

WD Support comes back on the line. If I send the defective HD in, they will replace it. I ask what I am supposed to do to get all my sensitive data off. Like what? he says. Like my novels… Oh, you’re a writer? Not today. What? I’m trying to deal with computer issues, so I haven’t been able to do any writing. I’ll be sure to look up some of your books after we get off the phone. Thank you. Thank you so very much.

WD Support Tech sends email detailing how to get sensitive material, like my novels, my authors’ novels, my authors’ addresses / phone numbers / social security numbers, and RockWay Press’ tax information off the external HD. The email is nothing but a list of outside companies — none of which is even close to NM — to which I am supposed to send the defective-but-still-under-warranty HD. I ask again about the security of my sensitive information. Oh, we trust them impletely. You mean, “implicitly” or “completely”? What? My stress level rises.

I have to call back for an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) after I get all my sensitive data off. Or, I can pay a substantial fee, fill out a complex form stating that my data is too sensitive to send out, and they will trust me and send me a new one while allowing me to keep the old one. The fee is more than the cost of a new HD. I can’t even laugh. Now I have a headache.

After much fiddling with the power button and cords and other thingamajiggies, I manage to get the light on the defective HD to come on. It starts to vibrate and whir. These are good things. It is 5:44. I attempt to copy all the data from that bad HD to the good HD. The beachball starts spinning. Things are going downhill too fast for me to bear any more of the writer’s life today. I attempt to stop the copying. Nothing works.

Now my head is hurting most profoundly. My BF comes to my office to say that Sophie, the little cat who had all her teeth extracted, seems hungry: she is licking an empty plate. Since I am apparently the only one in the house who can open a can of cat food for her, I go to feed her, as I have every two hours for the past month since she had all her teeth drilled out (to save her life). I feel tired. Very tired.

Sophie, the baby of the family, who had to have all her teeth drilled out just before Thanksgiving, to save her life: her chronic stomatitis (an allergy to the bacteria on her own teeth) caused her palate, throat, and tongue to swell, get lesions, and be inflamed. She would've starved to death, in terrible pain, and we would have had to put her down to prevent her suffering further.

Sophie, the baby of the family, who had to have all her teeth drilled out just before Thanksgiving, to save her life: her chronic stomatitis (an allergy to the bacteria on her own teeth) caused her palate, throat, and tongue to swell, get lesions, and be inflamed. She would’ve starved to death, in terrible pain, and we would have had to put her down to prevent her suffering further.

I had hoped that the computer would be done transferring the information by the time I returned. It has not. I try another approach. I could throw everything in the defective HD into the trash. As long as I don’t empty the trash, the data will be there when I get the replacement HD: I could then drag it to its new location. I stop writing this blog to attempt it.

I forget to save the blog as a draft.

When I put the laptop down on the floor to attend to the computer and the defective external HD, Mr. Eli decides to walk across the laptop’s keyboard. The blog is lost.

Beachball spinning on big computer.

7:07 p.m. and I have had enough of being a writer for the day. I decide to redo blog to get some of my frustration out. Suddenly I get a notice that I am not connected to the Internet, which has been happening several times over the last few days.

I was supposed to call Verizon, again, about the Internet-disconnect issue, after I’d called Apple, because Verizon said if it continued to disconnect for no apparent reason, the MiFi unit might be defective and need to be replaced. If I call them now, I’ll be on the phone for at least another hour. If I wait till tomorrow, I’ll lose another day of writing. Rock and a hard place, indeed.

I decide to forcibly eject the bad HD, pull its plug, buy another tomorrow, which will take most of the day since the nearest and only Apple store in entire state is over an hour away, and there are no electronics stores or office supply stores any closer. I wonder again why I moved to this Wilderness.

Peter O’Toole has died.

One of the greatest actors of all time, Peter O'Toole, who passed away this weekend in London, after a lengthy illness, at the age of 81.

One of the greatest actors of all time, Peter O’Toole, who passed away this weekend in London, after a lengthy illness, at the age of 81.

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Filed under Actors, Art, Authors, Blogging, Memoir, Movies/Films, Real Life of a Writer, Small Business, Writing